Thursday, September 16, 2021

That's The Sound Of The Police, Con't

Tampa cops are evicting mass numbers of Black and brown folk from public housing because somebody in the household committed a midemeanor. They report the "offenders" to the Tampa Housing Authority who evicts them because of CRIME. And of course, this happens even after people are cleared by the courts and the charges dropped, and they still lose their homes.

Police apprehended the three teenage boys, their pockets bulging with coins, close to South Seminole Heights shortly before dawn.

The youngest was 16. His haul from a nighttime spree of stealing from cars was $4.44 in change, a glove, a flashlight, a hoodie and wireless headphones.

The boy was taken to a juvenile detention center. Make sure he goes to school and does not sneak out at night, police told his mother.

But under a Tampa police initiative, officers also notified the management of Robles Park Village, the public housing complex where he lived.

His entire family lost their home.

Since 2013, the Tampa Police Department has taken a hands-on role at more than 100 apartment communities, sending notices to landlords when their tenants are arrested or stopped by officers and encouraging their eviction.

The program, known as Crime-Free Multi Housing, was marketed to landlords as a way to keep violent crime and drug and gang activity off their properties.

Police pledged to create a database of “documented violent offenders, gang members or career criminals involved in your community.” It alerted landlords to tenants arrested for armed robbery and drug dealing.

But the program also swept up more than 100 people who were arrested for misdemeanors — and dozens more whose charges were later dropped, a Tampa Bay Times investigation has found.

Tenants were reported to their landlord for matters as small as shoplifting; two were reported for driving with a suspended license. Entire families lost their homes after the arrest of a child or a relative who didn’t live with them.

And roughly 90 percent of the 1,100 people flagged by the program were Black, police records show. That’s despite Black residents making up only 54 percent of all arrests in Tampa over the past eight years.

The Times first approached the Tampa police about the program in 2017. Since then, the department has operated the program less aggressively, sending fewer letters to landlords and toning down wording that instructed landlords to take action. But police are continuing to report tenants to their landlords.

Mayor Jane Castor, who launched the initiative when she was police chief, remains bullish about the program. She said it has significantly reduced crime rates in tough-to-police neighborhoods, improving the quality of life for lawful tenants. That includes a 39 percent drop in serious crime reports at Robles Park, police said.

“In some of the lower-income complexes, they were just like the O.K. Corral,” Castor said. “People were hostages in their apartments and couldn’t let their kids out to play.”

Police officials said they had no say in whether a tenant was evicted — they were just sharing information.

“I don’t think that the landlords are evicting somebody based on a notice of arrest,” Castor said.

The police department’s biggest landlord partner was the Tampa Housing Authority, which provides housing to some of the city’s lowest income families. It received roughly one-quarter of the notices.

Bill Jackson, the authority’s director of public safety, said that his agency supports the program — and that he wasn’t concerned that people were evicted even when the State Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute.

That happens sometimes because those who are arrested turn informant, he said, adding that judges issue an eviction only if they are satisfied there are grounds. The authority conducts its own investigation, too, he said.

“We don’t need a conviction,” Jackson said. “We just need reasonable suspicion.”

National experts, however, said the city’s program violates federal housing law and noted that the ACLU is suing similar programs in other cities.

“This is an example of expansive police power going under the radar,” saidDeborah Archer, a professor at New York University School of Law and faculty director of the school’s Center on Race, Inequality and the Law. “We shouldn’t be attaching these kinds of consequences to arrests.

This infuriates me. You get kicked out of your home for a misdemeanor, or even being charged with one? Jesus hell, the Justice Department and HUD need to come down on Tampa like an asteroid and clear the entire place out.

Screw these assholes.

The Default Fault Halt

Senate Republicans are licking their chops at the prospect of cratering the US economy to score points by blocking a rise in the debt limit, and forcing the US into a recession-creating default, and as Greg Sargent reminds us, it'll be 100% the GOP's fault if it happens.

The current position held by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and most Republican senators is that this fall they will vote in favor of the United States defaulting on its debts, leading to economic Armageddon.

You don’t hear their position described this way in many press accounts, to be sure. But that is functionally their position: They are threatening to withhold all GOP support when Congress votes to suspend the debt limit, probably sometime in October.

If the debt limit is not suspended or raised, the United States will default, with horrible consequences, and Republicans are threatening to vote no.

McConnell spelled out his position in new detail in an interview with Punchbowl News. He says Democrats must suspend or raise the debt limit as part of their multi-trillion-dollar reconciliation bill, where they can do so by simple majority, without any Republicans.

If they do not, McConnell says, no Republicans will support suspending it or raising it as part of some other process, say, via a “clean” debt limit bill, or as part of a continuing resolution funding the government at the end of September (which would require 60 votes to overcome a GOP filibuster).

This is being widely portrayed as creating a dilemma for Democrats. And that’s true, if only in the sense that epic Republican bad faith is creating a dilemma for the more responsible party.

Democrats joined with Republicans to suspend the debt limit under President Donald Trump, and a good deal of debt was racked up during that period. Given this, Democrats are insisting that Republicans must join them to suspend the debt limit this time — suspending it would effectively render it inoperative until a future date — and they are daring Republicans to vote no.

One way Democrats might do this — which is favored by the White House — is to bundle the debt limit suspension with a government funding bill that would also include huge amounts of disaster aid, much of it for red states. The thinking is this disaster money should make it harder for Republicans to vote against it.

But Politico reports that Republicans are still threatening to withhold their votes, even if that disaster money is in that package, and blasting the White House and Democrats for even considering this approach.

Remarkably, Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) insists not only that this won’t pass but also the mere fact that Democrats might do this shows they’re operating “in bad faith” and don’t actually have the “back” of disaster-sufferers.

Just try to fathom how deranged that position truly is. Republicans insist Democrats must deal with the debt limit themselves, with no Republican support, and if Democrats package this with other things that must be done — such as disaster aid or funding the government — that’s somehow placing unfair pressure on Republicans to join in raising it.

But Republicans themselves agree the debt limit must be suspended or raised. Kennedy agrees with this. So does McConnell! As McConnell puts it, “America should never and never will default.”

So why shouldn’t they feel obliged to actually vote to suspend or raise the debt limit for the good of the country, just as Democrats did under a Republican president, when this also had to be done for the good of the country
So while I expect the Dems to indeed raise the debt limit through budget reconciliation, or at least suspend it, Republicans figure they can tie that around the necks of Dems for good. Thing is though, people like it when the government actually doesn't shut down, and the GOP has had so many shutdown tantrums in the last 25 years that nobody's going to buy they're arguing in good faith.

Bring it, I say.


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